A few weeks ago, I heard a podcast interview with a woman whose career is devoted to studying our perception of time. In the interview, the woman said that for some people, these past few months in quarantine have caused time to move much more quickly, while for others it has caused time to slow down. I have to say that I am decidedly in that first camp: time always moves faster than I can keep up with, and 2020 seems to be moving at double the usual speed. This year, more than ever, I’m thankful for touchstones like these monthly recaps that serve as an invitation to pause and reflect; even if time is moving too quickly, I don’t feel that those weeks and months were a total loss. Here’s a look at my July of 2020.
// READING LATELY //
This month I read quite a bit of new (or new-ish) fiction including this summer read (which I found well-written, though I struggled with the content); this Austen-inspired work of historical fiction (which had a great setup but too many characters); this compelling dystopian novel; and two very similar takes on the same premise (this book and this one—both of which I enjoyed). I also branched out of my usual genres a bit with some poetry, a graphic novel, and a collection of short stories.
I read less nonfiction than usual, but had some great takeaways from this parenting book and LOVED this life-improvement guide (and I’m not just saying that because I’m on the book’s launch team!). As always, full reviews of each book will be headed your way in the next few weeks.
// LISTENING LATELY //
Gaslighter (The Chicks) ~ I’m a longtime fan of The (Dixie) Chicks (fun fact: they are the only “real” band I’ve ever seen in concert), and was so excited to learn about their first new album in fourteen years! The songs stem from an artistic outpouring experienced by lead singer Natalie Maines following a bitter divorce, and many of the lyrics reflect her personal pain, bitterness, and disappointment—something that makes for challenging but occasionally cathartic and deeply relatable listening. Musically, the album features the group’s trademark blend of pop and bluegrass, complete with strings, banjo, and tight harmonies. My favorite song is “Julianna Calm Down” for its heartbreakingly beautiful theme and lovely musicality; unfortunately it contains numerous F-bombs, meaning that I can’t listen with my kids around.
Foklore (Taylor Swift) ~ I, along with millions of other Swifties, was overjoyed by the surprise release of a new album from Taylor less than a year after her previous album! It’s definitely not my favorite album of hers (1989 still holds that spot), but I really like it . . . with the exception of explicit lyrics in nearly every song; I was so sad I couldn’t share this album with Charleston, who has enjoyed Taylor’s music in the past.
The album has a relaxed feel to it, fitting with the less curated, more mature vibe Taylor has been embracing in recent years. Musically, several of the songs feel very similar to the songs on Lover, but with less showy pop and more indie folk. There are even some acoustic throwbacks to her country music days. Lyrically, the songs on this album are more expansive than what Taylor is typically known for, telling stories from a range of perspectives rather than rehashing her own experiences. I’ve enjoyed reading through several commentaries speculating on the meaning and origins of each song. I don’t know that I could choose a single favorite track, but so far the songs that have been getting the most play are “illicit affairs,” “my tears ricochet,” “exile,” and “hoax.” Even without this insider knowledge, this is an enjoyable album and a rare Quarantine silver lining.
// LOVING LATELY //
Last week I emptied, organized, and completely rearranged the contents of my kitchen cupboards. Externally, nothing has changed, but the update has me feeling like I have an entirely new kitchen! The biggest improvement involved transferring the contents of my mismatched spice containers into a set of matching glass jars, which I relocated from an upper cupboard to bamboo organizers in a drawer next to my stove. This is a project I’ve wanted to do for years—practically since Luke and I got married, over a decade ago!—and while I’m ashamed that it took me so long to tackle such simple and inexpensive project, I am thrilled with the outcome. It’s nice to have all of my spices accessible without having to dig through jars to find what I need. Plus, I love that all my jars now match; the set I purchased came with more than six hundred preprinted labels, so I did not have a single spice for which there wasn’t a corresponding label. My inner perfectionist is soooo happy!
// MONTHLY CHARLIE-ISMS //
This was my last full month with Charleston before he officially begins Kindergarten. (Not that much will change once he “starts” school, as we will simply be continuing with our homeschooling; but mentally it will be a big shift for us.) A highlight of my month with him was his half-birthday interview. In addition to his cute quips in that chat, he’s said a number of other things this month that were too cute to be forgotten.
+ In a discussion about super heroes. Me: “What should my super hero name be?” Charleston: “Super Mom, or maybe Super Kendra, because those are the two names that people call you.”
+ “When I go to Kindergarten, on the first day of show and tell, I know what I’m going to share: my super powers! I’m going to show them my jet speed and my super spin jump!” (Despite many conversations about how he is not actually going to school, he still is a little confused about this.)
+ “You know who’s in charge of the house?” Me: “I don’t know, who?” Charleston: “Me and Daddy.” Me: “Not me?” Charleston: “Okay, I guess you can be too. But the babies and Arlo are the two people who have to follow our rules.”
+ “You want to hear a compliment? I love you to the universe and back. Or maybe just to the universe, not back.”
+ When I told Charleston that God told us He would defeat Satan: “Really? I never heard not one peep from Him. Never.”
+ When you saw a dead bird outside the gym and I said that made me sad: “Why is that sad? The bird is in Heaven now! But why is the body still there if it’s in Heaven?”
+ About having a big gap in his mouth after losing a second tooth: “Now my mouth is available for a whole finger! Last time it was only available for half a finger. But my thumb is too big. Pointer is the one I usually have to use.”
+ While listening to the radio in the car: “Mom, is this music alive?”
+ When we picked up our library books and discovered I’d accidentally reserved a Berenstain Bears DVD instead of a book: “That’s okay, we can watch it instead of read it.” Me: “We could except that we don’t have a DVD player.” Charleston: “Wait, you mean it didn’t come with one?” Then, when he opened the case, “Oh look, you were wrong, it DID come with the player.” (He thought the disc was a player.)
+ “Mom, if we pray the magic words, we can defeat Satan and that will make the sickness go away.” Then he ran into his room, closed the door, and chanted “I believe in God!” for the next twenty minutes. (We have talked in the past about how the name of Jesus is a way to combat spiritual warfare, and apparently he sees COVID as just that.)
Charleston also had a number of very cute moments this month that, while not quite as hilarious as his Charlie-isms, are still memories I don’t want to forget:
+ He’s started calling any time we spend together a “date” and asks me out on several dates each day. This past week we’ve gone on a homework date (me helping him with school); a reading date (story time); a cleaning date (him helping me clean the bathroom); and a mini golf date (playing miniature golf in his bedroom).
+ He decided we were going to start learning a new letter each day and has been designing daily lessons for us, complete with chalkboard work on his easel and a pointer he made out of LEGOs. I have no idea how he knows how real school works, since he’s never been.
+ After helping me clean up the house one evening, he told me he wants this to be a nightly activity because it is SO FUN. Now, every night before bed, we wander from room to room looking for clutter and messes than need to be picked up. This OCD mama is so proud.
+ My in-laws bought him a Spider Man costume and he’s hardly taken it off in the past few weeks, and runs around the house performing endless super hero moves.
// HAPPENINGS AND HIGHLIGHTS //
I think everyone’s Fourth of July looked a little different this year. Instead of going to see a fireworks show as we’d planned, our family joined my in-laws at their house for an afternoon of barbecue, hanging out in the kiddie pool, and playing board games. That evening there were firecrackers and small fireworks in the driveway, which Charleston loved. Unfortunately the twins and I had to head home before dark, but I’m so glad that my big boy had such a good time.
On the afternoon of the Fourth, Amanda attempted a photo shoot with the kids. Unfortunately they were all pretty grouchy so we didn’t get the best poses, but thanks to Amanda’s creativity and camera expertise, they still turned out great. We learned that next time we need to shoot pictures earlier in the day, and also that food helps. (In that group photo, you can spot Sully spying cousin Collin’s risk husk; he stole it from him just after this picture was taken, haha!)
A small note of business: I’ll be taking a blogging break this next week. I’ll have quote posts for you tomorrow and next Saturday, but there won’t be any other posts for me during the week. I’ll be back August 10 with (what else?) a book review!